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India as a Secular State

India as a Secular State

DONALD EUGENE SMITH
Copyright Date: 1963
Pages: 538
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt183ppwm
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    India as a Secular State
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    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7778-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE (pp. vii-xii)
    D. E. S.
  3. Table of Contents (pp. xiii-xx)
  4. PART ONE THE SECULAR STATE IN PERSPECTIVE
    • CHAPTER 1 WHAT IS A SECULAR STATE? (pp. 3-21)

      An effective way of discouraging a hopeful reader is to subject him to a series of definitions in the first pages of a book. To devote the first half of a chapter to the matter of definition is even more deadly. Thus I am not unmindful of the risks involved when I do precisely that. One might wish that the definition of the secular state could be handled in a footnote, but the term is so little understood in its fullness that a more detailed treatment is demanded.

      In this chapter I shall attempt to present, first, a definition of...

    • CHAPTER 2 THE PROBLEM IN THE ASIAN SETTING (pp. 22-54)

      As we have seen, the secular state is a principle which has developed over a period of several centuries of western political experience. In Europe and America it has emerged as an important aspect of the liberal democratic tradition. The secular state is, in origin, a western and not an Asian conception. This is not to deny the obvious fact that certainelementsof the secular state, as we have defined it, have a long tradition in Asia. Individual freedom of religion, for example, has strong roots in the Hindu and Buddhist countries. But other elements of the conception have...

  5. PART TWO BASIS FOR THE SECULAR STATE IN INDIA
    • CHAPTER 3 THE HISTORICAL FOUNDATION (pp. 57-99)

      K. M. Panikkar rightly rejected the notion that the ancient past can adequately explain modern Indian secularism. He wrote: “Clearly, our new democratic, egalitarian and secular state is not built upon the foundations of ancient India, or of Hindu thought.”¹ Panikker went on to assert unequivocally that the roots of modern India are to be found primarily in the European traditions of the past century and a half. Nevertheless, there were significant factors in the ancient past which to some extent looked toward a secular political order.

      In ancient India the promotion ofdharma(law, duty, morality, religion) was regarded...

    • CHAPTER 4 THE CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK (pp. 100-138)

      Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, chairman of the drafting committee, observed in the Constituent Assembly that it would be impossible to frame an absolutely new or original constitution at this point in history. The only innovations possible in a constitution framed so late in the day, he declared, would be the variations needed to adapt it to the peculiar conditions prevailing in India. The Government of India Act of 1935 provided a large part of the basic framework, but important principles were borrowed from the constitutional systems of Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Eire, and Australia.

      Part III of the...

    • CHAPTER 5 THE THEORETICAL UNDERGIRDING (pp. 139-160)

      Undergirding the secular constitutional structure are both practical and theoretical considerations. The secular state may be interpreted as a pragmatic solution to the problem of religious pluralism. Political expediency alone would dictate such a policy, and expression has frequently been given to this practical consideration. In 1950 Nehru declared: “The government of a country like India, with many religions that have secured great and devoted followings for generations, can never function satisfactorily in the modern age except on a secular basis.”¹ From the standpoint of national unity and stability, the principle of the secular state represents a sound practical approach....

  6. PART THREE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND STATE REGULATION
    • CHAPTER 6 THE PROPAGATION OF RELIGION (pp. 163-192)

      The Indian Constitution guarantees to all persons not only freedom of conscience but the right to profess, practice, andpropagatereligion. The liberal tradition has insisted that liberty of thought and liberty of expression are intimate and inseparable. John Stuart Mill defined the former right in sweeping language—“absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral or theological.” The liberty to express and publish such opinions, Mill continued, might at first appear to fall in a different category, “but, being almost of as much importance as the liberty of thought itself, and resting in...

    • CHAPTER 7 THE QUESTION OF FOREIGN MISSIONARIES (pp. 193-215)

      We now come to an aspect of the propagation of religion which is considerably more complex than the problems discussed in the last chapter. Even if the right to propagate religion, including the seeking of conversions, is established as a fundamental right, the admission of foreigners into a country to carry on such activities raises many additional questions.

      It is interesting to note that in its earliest recorded connection with organized missionary effort, India was the sending and not the receiving country. In the third century B. C., the emperor Ashoka embraced the message of the Buddha and renounced his...

    • CHAPTER 8 PROBLEMS OF REGULATION AND REFORM (pp. 216-234)

      Apart from questions concerning the propagation of religion, which have been considered in the two preceding chapters, there are important areas of religious practice which the state has had to regulate. Regulation in the interest of public health and safety and the maintenance of law and order became firmly established in the British period and continue today. While it is sometimes claimed that such regulations infringe on freedom of religion, this is not a serious problem in present-day India. In a later section we shall discuss the historical role of the state in the reform of religious practices; in this...

    • CHAPTER 9 THE REFORM OF HINDU TEMPLES (pp. 235-262)

      There was little doubt regarding the need for reform in the institutions of Hindu worship when Indian independence was achieved in 1947. In many of the temples, primitive practices such as animal sacrifices had found a place alongside of the performance of Sanskrit rituals. Temple prostitution, while it had declined greatly since the end of the nineteenth century, still flourished in some places. In most parts of India, temple officers and priests forbade the entry of the ceremonially unclean untouchables, who represent a large minority within the Hindu fold.

      The administration of temple property was notoriously corrupt in many places;...

  7. PART FOUR STATE VERSUS RELIGIOUS REGULATION OF SOCIETY
    • CHAPTER 10 RELIGION, LAW, AND SECULARISM (pp. 265-291)

      Traditional Hinduism and Islam were far more than “religions” in the usual meaning of the word. Historically, both came very close to being total ways of life in the most literal sense; they prescribed detailed regulations for virtually every act of human existence, the great events which mark the life cycle and the day-to-day routine. All-pervasive religion regulated not only general social relationships but the whole area of what we now call criminal and civil law. In the Hindu or Muslim state the king had no legislative powers. The function of the state was to enforce the law but not...

    • CHAPTER 11 CASTE AND THE SECULAR STATE (pp. 292-332)

      Jawaharlal Nehru, in discussing his conception of the secular state, once wrote: “a caste-ridden society is not properly secular.”¹ This chapter investigates government policies toward caste in the light of the secular state. The subject is one of some complexity and can only be dealt with after considering the historical relationships of the caste system to Hindu religion and to the state.

      Is caste to be regarded as an integral part of Hindu religion, or is it simply the social structure which happened to develop in India, ultimately not dissimilar from rigid class systems elsewhere? On one hand, Hutton wrote...

  8. PART FIVE THE SECULAR STATE AND CULTURE
    • CHAPTER 12 EDUCATION AND RELIGION (pp. 335-371)

      In India as in the West, education was for many centuries closely associated with religion. William Meston was quite correct when he asserted that “the Indian mind finds it hard to think of an education worthy of the name which is dissociated from religion. The schools of the past owed their distinctive features to what was taught in the precincts of Hindu temple and Mohammedan mosque.”¹ One may therefore expect that education will be one of the most crucial areas in which India’s commitment to secularism will have to be defined. This has indeed been the case in other secular...

    • CHAPTER 13 HINDUISM AND INDIAN CULTURE (pp. 372-402)

      What Is Culture? A valuable study cited 164 definitions of culture taken from the writings of anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and philosophers.¹ A number of the definitions stress the idea that culture is a collective name for the material, social, religious, and artistic achievements of human groups, including traditions, customs, and behavior patterns, all of which are unified by common beliefs and values. Values provide the essential part of a culture and give it its distinctive quality and tone.

      What is the relation of religion to culture? It is religion which most explicitly articulates the distinctive values of a culture. If...

  9. PART SIX MAJORITY-MINORITY RELATIONS
    • CHAPTER 14 A REPORT ON THE MINORITIES (pp. 405-453)

      Religious minorities have played a significant role in the evolution of the secular state in the West. In India also, the minorities have made an important contribution, although this has often been a somewhat negative one. The constant pressure of Muslim opinion both within and outside of the Indian nationalist movement during the 1920’s and 1930’s made it abundantly clear that the free India of the future could not be a Hindu state. In addition to their distinctive cultural contributions, religious minorities are the natural guardians of the secular state, for their position would certainly be endangered by any significant...

    • CHAPTER 15 THE CHALLENGE OF HINDU COMMUNALISM (pp. 454-490)

      Frequent references have been made to the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians, and the Sikhs as religious “communities.” While the term “communal” is sometimes used simply as the neutral adjectival form (as in “communal representation”), it is generally associated with a narrow, selfish, divisive, and aggressive attitude on the part of a religious group. The term “communalism,” as it is used in India today, refers to the functioning of religious communities, or organizations which claim to represent them, in a way which is considered detrimental to the interests of other groups or of the nation as a whole.¹ The term...

  10. PART SEVEN PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
    • CHAPTER 16 THE BUILDING OF A SECULAR STATE (pp. 493-502)

      This concluding chapter will attempt to weigh the numerous factors of strength and weakness in the secular state in India. As one surveys the total scene, it is evident that the factors which support secularism are by no means negligible. Those who would dismiss the secular state as a superficial attempt by a handful of westernized leaders to impose a concept foreign to India’s history have not considered all of the facts.

      The secular state is built on substantial historical foundations. The Hindu state of ancient, medieval, or modern times was not a narrowly sectarian state in any sense; patronage...

  11. INDEX (pp. 503-518)